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Six Teens Hospitalised In NSW After Using Vapes Purchased On Snapchat

10 July 2023 | 10:22 am | Jessie Lynch

"That kind of 'Uberisation' of drug selling is a great concern, particularly for parents."


Vaping (Canva)

Heath authorities have issued an alert after six young people were admitted to hospital presenting symptoms including seizures, loss of consciousness, and vomiting after using vapes.

As per SMH, NSW Health understands some of the vapes were purchased from sellers on Snapchat, with an analysis showing that the products contained nicotine.

The incidents occurred between June 21 and 29, leading to a memo being sent to South West Sydney Local Health District hospital doctors, as most of the cases occurred within the district.

“NSW Health is urging parents to be aware of vaping among young people and encourages having early conversations to help discourage it,” a spokesperson for the health department said in a statement.

"Vapes may contain dangerous chemicals, including those found in weedkiller and nail polish remover, which can cause irreversible damage."

”If parents or carers are concerned someone has been poisoned by liquid nicotine, call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 immediately. If they have collapsed or are not breathing, immediately call triple zero for an ambulance."

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The alarming incidents have again drawn focus to the dangers of vaping - particularly when it comes to young people accessing disposable vapes via Snapchat and local tobacconists and convenience stores - despite the current Australian law stating vapes may only be purchased by an adult with a prescription. 

It is also illegal to sell any vaping product to a minor.

Paul Dillon, director of Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia (DARTA), told the publication he witnessed how easily teens could buy vapes on Snapchat while running school education workshops in Sydney.

"Snapchat is seen as being the difficult [platform] for the police to track," Dillon said.

“I had a couple of girls who came up to me a while ago who said, ‘Do you want to see how easy it is to buy vapes?’” 

He added, “It literally only took minutes for someone to meet them at the local train station and sell them 50 vapes. Now you don’t even need to go somewhere to get them, they will drop them to you.”

"It can take you literally just a few minutes to pay someone via the app, and then they deliver them to your door.

"That kind of 'Uberisation' of drug selling is a great concern, particularly for parents."

The news comes as Australia is set to introduce a major reform in smoking regulations as it prepares to ban the sale of non-prescription vapes in the country. 

The $234 million crackdown comes as part of the country's efforts to reduce the number of young people vaping and the associated health risks and will see disposable vapes completely banned, as well as new restrictions on flavours and colours.

However, the federal government will now make it easier for people to vape with a doctor’s prescription, though they will require pharmaceutical-like packaging and have reduced nicotine concentrations and volumes.

Health Minister Mark Butler said the crackdown comes amid concerns over the number of young people addicted to nicotine, adding that vapers are three times as likely to take up smoking.

“The former government allowed this black market to flourish for too long and as a result, vaping has become a menace in our schools and society,” Butler said in May,

“Just like they did with smoking, Big Tobacco has taken another addictive product, wrapped it in shiny packaging and added flavours to create a new generation of nicotine addicts."

“Vapers are three times as likely to take up smoking, which explains why under 25s are the only cohort in the community currently recording an increase in smoking rates.”

According to a recent study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, one in six teenagers between 14 and 17 have vaped and a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds have vaped.